Amount and environmental predictors of outdoor playtime at home and school: a cross-sectional analysis of a national sample of preschool-aged children attending Head Start

Health Place. 2012 Nov;18(6):1224-30. doi: 10.1016/j.healthplace.2012.08.004. Epub 2012 Aug 30.


Outdoor play is an important contributor to children's physical activity and the prevalence, correlates, and environmental predictors of it among young children are not well characterized. This study aims to estimate the amount of time preschool-aged children attending Head Start spend playing outdoors at home and school, and whether aspects of the home and school environment are associated with greater outdoor play. We analyzed data (n=2529) collected in spring 2007 in the Head Start Family and Child Experiences Survey (FACES). Overall, 37.5% of children played outside at home >2h per weekday. Children who had a yard near home to play in or who had visited a park or playground or gone on a picnic with a family member in the last month were more likely to have >2h per weekday outdoor play at home, but having a playground within walking distance of the home was not related to home outdoor playtime. On average children played outdoors at Head Start for 36 min per day. The amount of time children played outdoors at home was not related to school outdoor time.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Child, Preschool
  • Continental Population Groups / statistics & numerical data
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Early Intervention, Educational / statistics & numerical data*
  • Educational Status
  • Environment
  • Family Characteristics*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Play and Playthings*
  • Schools / statistics & numerical data*
  • Time Factors
  • United States